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Sirhornsalot

January Landscapes – Topdressing has real impact on spring lawns

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soil-129288276-59148fdc5f9b586470d8aa49.thumb.jpg.17a4d2d40650b4dfb56cce0988635a43.jpg

What we do in January pays dividends later

Topdressing, aeration set the tone for the spring/summer growing season

What on Earth could you possibly have to do in the landscape in January, of all months? Why don’t you just take the month off, Mark? After all, it’s cold outside. lol

Well, cold is a relative term in Texas. It depends on where you’re standing. We can have some very spring-like days in January so no, there’s no excuse in not coming through in what I consider the most important landscaping month on the calendar – January.

How can January be the most important month? Nothing is growing in January. Right?

The last two weeks of January, and into early February, is the time when we typically aerate lawns and follow that up with a topdressing of compost over the top of the lawn as well as our planting beds and veggie gardens. Big deal, huh? Well, yeah, it is. It sets the tone for the whole growing season.

Let me explain. When you aerate your lawn with a typical aerator machine, you create hundreds of 3-inch to 4-inch holes in the lawn. These holes act like little catch basins. With the compost over the top of it, any water filtering through it (rain or sprinklers) will create a tea-like liquid we call compost tea, which sifts into the catch basin holes, allowing more of the minerals and nutrients to be absorbed into the soil. The result is a healthier, more robust lawn and garden emerging a few weeks later when spring begins to arrive.

 

compost-application_organic-fertilizer_signature-tree-care-1024x683.thumb.jpg.676e89c7bfb5a71025c5b0e654f7f45c.jpg

Why do we need to do this? Aren’t the minerals and nutrients already there in the soil?

Each year we spray thousands of gallons of water on our lawns – tap water which contains chlorine. Chlorine is designed to kill bacteria and other bad things and unfortunately, it also kills important things in our soils such as enzymes and microbes. Soil depletion is further enhanced by our own hot Texas sun, which bakes nutrients out of the soil. Wind and water erosion also come into play. All of this is compounded if you’re one who bags their lawn clippings and does not mulch their leaves in the fall.

So we replenish our soil.

Are all composts the same and if not, which one do I use?

It really depends on where you live and what your type of soil needs to produce more successful growth. I recommend purchasing a soil pH meter to find out what your soil pH is and if it needs some adjusting. If your soil pH is neutral, then you can use about any type of compost out there. If your soil pH is acidic, then use a pH neutral compost, such as cotton bur compost. If your soil is high alkaline, use an acidic cotton burr compost.

As you might guess, cotton burr compost is my favorite compost to use for topdressing purposes. It is made of 100 percent cotton plant waste, composted and is a natural clay soil softener. It is also loaded with minerals and nutrients while also being easy on the nitrogen. You’re not looking to put much nitrogen into the soil right now, you’re interested in literally everything else the turf/plants need that cotton burr compost naturally comes with.

Dairy cow manure compost is another excellent choice. It is very fine and this is helpful in that it takes less time to get worked into the soil. Dairy cows are fed a high nutrient diet, so the compost coming from that is also highly nutritious.

If you’re in the Austin area, you’ll be able to get “Dillo Dirt” which is a compost product created by the city of Austin and sold throughout the area. It makes a fine lawn topdressing.

5afc1e2c4fe37822235c6756.thumb.jpeg.e16549e7f083789fc03cab38076dfa99.jpeg

What do you mean when you say topdressing? How much do I put down on the lawn?

You’re not looking to cover the entire lawn and make it black. You’re looking to make a dusting of compost on the lawn, like a light snowfall. Once you’ve put it down, rake through it so that it disperses into the turf. At the same time, you want to put down enough to create the result you’re looking for.

Once this is done, you’re ready for rain to make the magic happen.

The most successful topdressing season I’ve seen was in January 2007 when only a day after we applied the last topdressing, a five-inch snow fell on the Metroplex. The ensuing slow melt of that snow caused even more penetration of the compost into the soil. It had a dramatic effect on our lawns later in spring.

A third component of this annual task is the application of pre-emergent. The first pre-emergent application of the year is due at the same time you are performing your topdressing. So just apply the pre-emergent last, so that it is scattered on top of the compost/turf. If you opt to skip the aeration/topdressing, go ahead and get that pre-emergent down anyway during the last of this month or early February.

On the retail side, pre-emergent is often labeled “weed preventer” or “crabgrass preventer.” It likely will not say “pre-emergent” even though thats what it is.

If you’re looking for a way to get your lawn back to beautiful, compost topdressing/aeration is where you start.

 

Farmers Almanac is out

The 2020 Old Farmers’ Almanac is out and on sale. Make sure you pick up a copy as there is a wealth of information contained inside. For the gardening/landscaping person, this is an invaluable tool as you’ll find. You can learn when the best time to plant your vegetables, when the first and last frosts will be, as well as learning all types of tricks to produce healthier plants and flowers.

But one of the main reasons I always get a copy is because of their weather forecasts for the year. They are a respected source of forecast information simply because they take into account the affects of solar activity into our weather, whereas most modern climatologists do not. Its strange that they don’t, but the sun has a profound affect on our weather.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)

stagecoach_trailers.jpg.a038ff8fb7ff69c670b98e8babaef035.jpg.b88e8007f190c7380c99815b5c45d1af.jpg.d1-4dd93d8877.thumb.jpg.7ca6c3177b1ebc2ffc4f8ce86da8cb50.thumb.jpg.fc1db211cd048e1ee1b8bd5943eed2d0.jpg


 

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15 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

soil-129288276-59148fdc5f9b586470d8aa49.thumb.jpg.17a4d2d40650b4dfb56cce0988635a43.jpg

What we do in January pays dividends later

Topdressing, aeration set the tone for the spring/summer growing season

What on Earth could you possibly have to do in the landscape in January, of all months? Why don’t you just take the month off, Mark? After all, it’s cold outside. lol

Well, cold is a relative term in Texas. It depends on where you’re standing. We can have some very spring-like days in January so no, there’s no excuse in not coming through in what I consider the most important landscaping month on the calendar – January.

How can January be the most important month? Nothing is growing in January. Right?

The last two weeks of January, and into early February, is the time when we typically aerate lawns and follow that up with a topdressing of compost over the top of the lawn as well as our planting beds and veggie gardens. Big deal, huh? Well, yeah, it is. It sets the tone for the whole growing season.

Let me explain. When you aerate your lawn with a typical aerator machine, you create hundreds of 3-inch to 4-inch holes in the lawn. These holes act like little catch basins. With the compost over the top of it, any water filtering through it (rain or sprinklers) will create a tea-like liquid we call compost tea, which sifts into the catch basin holes, allowing more of the minerals and nutrients to be absorbed into the soil. The result is a healthier, more robust lawn and garden emerging a few weeks later when spring begins to arrive.

 

compost-application_organic-fertilizer_signature-tree-care-1024x683.thumb.jpg.676e89c7bfb5a71025c5b0e654f7f45c.jpg

Why do we need to do this? Aren’t the minerals and nutrients already there in the soil?

Each year we spray thousands of gallons of water on our lawns – tap water which contains chlorine. Chlorine is designed to kill bacteria and other bad things and unfortunately, it also kills important things in our soils such as enzymes and microbes. Soil depletion is further enhanced by our own hot Texas sun, which bakes nutrients out of the soil. Wind and water erosion also come into play. All of this is compounded if you’re one who bags their lawn clippings and does not mulch their leaves in the fall.

So we replenish our soil.

Are all composts the same and if not, which one do I use?

It really depends on where you live and what your type of soil needs to produce more successful growth. I recommend purchasing a soil pH meter to find out what your soil pH is and if it needs some adjusting. If your soil pH is neutral, then you can use about any type of compost out there. If your soil pH is acidic, then use a pH neutral compost, such as cotton bur compost. If your soil is high alkaline, use an acidic cotton burr compost.

As you might guess, cotton burr compost is my favorite compost to use for topdressing purposes. It is made of 100 percent cotton plant waste, composted and is a natural clay soil softener. It is also loaded with minerals and nutrients while also being easy on the nitrogen. You’re not looking to put much nitrogen into the soil right now, you’re interested in literally everything else the turf/plants need that cotton burr compost naturally comes with.

Dairy cow manure compost is another excellent choice. It is very fine and this is helpful in that it takes less time to get worked into the soil. Dairy cows are fed a high nutrient diet, so the compost coming from that is also highly nutritious.

If you’re in the Austin area, you’ll be able to get “Dillo Dirt” which is a compost product created by the city of Austin and sold throughout the area. It makes a fine lawn topdressing.

5afc1e2c4fe37822235c6756.thumb.jpeg.e16549e7f083789fc03cab38076dfa99.jpeg

What do you mean when you say topdressing? How much do I put down on the lawn?

You’re not looking to cover the entire lawn and make it black. You’re looking to make a dusting of compost on the lawn, like a light snowfall. Once you’ve put it down, rake through it so that it disperses into the turf. At the same time, you want to put down enough to create the result you’re looking for.

Once this is done, you’re ready for rain to make the magic happen.

The most successful topdressing season I’ve seen was in January 2007 when only a day after we applied the last topdressing, a five-inch snow fell on the Metroplex. The ensuing slow melt of that snow caused even more penetration of the compost into the soil. It had a dramatic effect on our lawns later in spring.

A third component of this annual task is the application of pre-emergent. The first pre-emergent application of the year is due at the same time you are performing your topdressing. So just apply the pre-emergent last, so that it is scattered on top of the compost/turf. If you opt to skip the aeration/topdressing, go ahead and get that pre-emergent down anyway during the last of this month or early February.

On the retail side, pre-emergent is often labeled “weed preventer” or “crabgrass preventer.” It likely will not say “pre-emergent” even though thats what it is.

If you’re looking for a way to get your lawn back to beautiful, compost topdressing/aeration is where you start.

 

Farmers Almanac is out

The 2020 Old Farmers’ Almanac is out and on sale. Make sure you pick up a copy as there is a wealth of information contained inside. For the gardening/landscaping person, this is an invaluable tool as you’ll find. You can learn when the best time to plant your vegetables, when the first and last frosts will be, as well as learning all types of tricks to produce healthier plants and flowers.

But one of the main reasons I always get a copy is because of their weather forecasts for the year. They are a respected source of forecast information simply because they take into account the affects of solar activity into our weather, whereas most modern climatologists do not. Its strange that they don’t, but the sun has a profound affect on our weather.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)

stagecoach_trailers.jpg.a038ff8fb7ff69c670b98e8babaef035.jpg.b88e8007f190c7380c99815b5c45d1af.jpg.d1-4dd93d8877.thumb.jpg.7ca6c3177b1ebc2ffc4f8ce86da8cb50.thumb.jpg.fc1db211cd048e1ee1b8bd5943eed2d0.jpg


 

I was going to to mulch all the leaves that I still have.  Can this go on lawn as well with the cotton Burr (been using for last two years based on your advice)?  

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4 minutes ago, Earl Nobis Jefferson said:

I was going to to mulch all the leaves that I still have.  Can this go on lawn as well with the cotton Burr (been using for last two years based on your advice)?  

Absolutely. The more organic matter you can put into the soil, the better.

 

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